Helen Bartlett has found herself the recipient of reproach after a video of the Caribbean mother violently beating her daughter for posting a semi nude on Facebook went viral.
The video which came to be posted last Sunday by Caribbean mother mother from Trinidad and Tobago whipping her 12 year old daughter with a belt. The video which lasts six minutes has to date been shared more than 43 000 times.
The video has left many viewers divided. With some justifying the mother’s actions while others calling it child abuse, arguing that the mother crossed the line. It has also since engendered a discussion on the use of corporal punishment. A form of punishment that has been used by parents in the region since generations.
On Wednesday, Helen Bartlett’s daughter and her older sister uploaded another video in response to the controversy, expressing support for their mother.
In the video, the daughters tell how Helen Bartlett is a good mother who wanted to protect her daughters from teenage pregnancy, or worse.
Interviewed by a local radio station earlier this week, the mother told she was ‘prepared to go to jail’ to set her wayward young daughter on the right path.
Asked if she regretted her actions, Helen Bartlett, who has three girls and a boy, said she stood by her mode of discipline, but she was sorry that the video intended to shame her 12-year-old has gained such notoriety.
The mother reiterated since the girl’s father, a police officer, left them, the child has been unmanageable.
Efforts to reach the father also has been of no help, with the father telling, according to Bartlett that he wanted nothing to do with her.
The single mother added that she had exhausted all avenues trying to keep her daughter on the straight and narrow, including seeking counselling for her.
What sparked the brutal beating last Sunday in the Bartletts’ apartment was a salacious text message exchange between the 12-year-old girl and a boy her age, who was trying to convince her to have sex with him.
After the mother read the messages, she accessed her underage daughter’s Facebook profile and discovered photos of the girl posing ‘seductively’ in her underwear.
Helen Bartlett explained that while her child is pretty and intelligent, she has a low self-esteem and is susceptible to peer pressure.
Her worst fear is that if the 12-year-old continues down this road, one day she is either going to come home pregnant, or will end up dead on the streets.
‘I stand firmly by my decision. I will go to jail for it,’ the mother said. ‘I know people are saying the authorities should charge me for abuse.’
Asked about her daughter’s state of mind following the release of the controversial video, Helen Bartlett told the girl was coping ‘unexpectedly well.’
In her response video, the daughter said she knew her mother loves her dearly, and she reassured the viewers that has no intention of killing herself because she loves herself ‘too much.’
The girl has not been to school since the video went viral, and her mother said she has been preparing her for potential bullying and mockery from her classmates.
Defending Helen Bartlett’s old-school brand of discipline, her older daughter explained in her counter video that with their father not around anymore, there is no male figure in the family to set her out-of-control sibling straight.
‘The road my sister was heading down was teenaged pregnancy,’ she said. ‘She saw this as a way she could stop it. My sister has learnt her lesson.’
Speaking out for the first time since the incident, the 12-year-old at the center of the firestorm said: ‘I am very sorry for bringing shame on you and the family. I know you love me dearly. And I love you dearly, too.’
The girl then appealed to other children her age, urging them to watch the video of her beating and learn from it.
‘You are a special piece of God’s puzzle,’ the girl told. ‘And don’t let what happen to me happen to you also.’
Interestingly, the father of the child has since come out to speak against his estranged wife, telling that he will now seek libel against her.
stabroeknews: In a telephone interview on Thursday, a close relative of the father told the T&T Guardian that the father had met with an attorney and they have started the process of filing a libel lawsuit against Bartlett. “He met with his lawyer and we have a strong case because she has scandalised his name and have borne false witness against him. Legal action is being prepared. It is already in process,” the relative said.
Since the fracas made headlines, Jamaica Observer reported late this week that Trinidad and Tobago’s Ministry of Gender, Youth and Child Development has weighed in on the issue, calling on parents to use ‘non-physical forms of discipline.’
And then there was this comment on the web that made me wonder as well: The child has been cited as having low self esteem issues by her mother as well as giving trouble from preschool. This child’s issues are more than any beating will solve. This child is looking for attention, admiration from others to boost her self esteem and affection as seen by her posting inappropriate photos on Facebook. If this mother has been having big problems with this child since she was a toddler maybe she needs to look within herself and see if the things she has tried to ‘help’ her daughter are only harming her further. While it’s important to be stern with children, we must be careful not to bull and belittle. Posting a video of the beating of your child is only harmful and insensitive and this child and mother need help.